Are you passionate about having a career in the fashion industry? If so, then an international internship program is worth looking into! There are many reasons as to why I did one, but the main reasons come down to three things: exposure, experience, and the chance for greater cultural awareness. All these benefits are proving to be well worth the time and effort it took to plan and prepare for what I call, an opportunity of a lifetime! So, get ready because I’m calling every fashion enthusiast out there to read my story and see for yourself if this is an opportunity that’s right for you!
Now then, the first thing you need to know is why I decided to pursue an international internship in the first place! As a graduate student, I had one of two options. I soon realized that exposure was one of the biggest benefits in doing a program such as this one, so I chose to pursue an international internship instead of a local assistantship I had back home. It was an easy choice to make, considering where I lived. Growing up in a small town in Mississippi, there weren’t many options for me to work in fashion unless it was in retail. As a result, I knew if I wanted to go deeper and learn more about the fashion industry, I would need to expand my outreach to include bigger cities all over the world. Thus began my journey to find the most fashionable city out there that suited my own luxurious tastes and bohemian personality!
It took some time, but I eventually came across an opportunity through Global Experiences to participate in an international internship. In case you don’t know already, one of the greatest advantages of the program is the variety of different locations that are offered to students. Of course, I was mostly intrigued by three locations: New York City, London, and Paris. I’m sure you can imagine how hard it was for me to contemplate these options! Fun fact, did you know that these three cities, along with Milan, are still considered to be the top four major fashion capitals in the world?! It’s true! Don’t believe me? Linked here is an article I found while researching a topic for my own thesis paper last semester!
For those of you who have never done a study abroad or international internship program before, I will go ahead and say that a huge perk is being able to travel! The exposure I received after partaking in a London study abroad program my junior year of college was incredible! My time there had a huge impact on my life and the experiences I had changed me in the best possible way and here’s why! For starters, the program, unbeknownst to me at the time, helped me figure out what I wanted to do after I graduated, which was to work for a luxury fashion company. Secondly, my interest in fashion continued to grow even after I graduated and started working full time. As a result, once Covid-19 hit, I decided to go back and pursue my master’s degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) at Mississippi State University.
Now that I’m a graduate student pursuing my dream career in fashion, getting exposure was extremely important to me and something I couldn’t pass up on when the opportunity presented itself. For some of you, especially those who are still trying to decide on a major, getting exposure may not be your top priority now, but trust me when I say that it should be! Gaining exposure, especially within a newer industry, is highly beneficial for two reasons. One, it makes it easier to network and connect with other professionals within your career field. Two, you become more certain about your future career when you expose yourself to the type of lifestyle you think you want. Even if you don’t know which career you want, the more you’re exposed to that lifestyle, the easier it will be for you to determine if it’s the right path for you!
Now that I’m officially integrated into the program, I can honestly say that I made the right choice, again! I mentioned to you already that exposure was a huge benefit as to why I applied for the program. The second benefit, which is just as important, is this: experience! Experience is a huge asset in gaining employability anywhere, not just in the fashion industry. If I could go back in time and tell younger me the truth of that statement, I would! Trust me on this, you are going to want to have some experience behind you before you enter the real world. For me, a program such as this one was the perfect solution, and perhaps it can be for you too! How do I know this, you might ask? Well, I’m currently typing this blog in the most beautiful, romantic city you can think of right now! That’s right, my dream to live and work in Paris, France has come true, and I must admit, I’m loving every second of it!
On a side note, if you’re a fashion enthusiast like me, don’t worry too much about the language barrier when you choose your location because I sure didn’t! I can only say a few words in French, but I didn’t let that stop me from coming here. So, if you’re currently contemplating two or more places to go too, I say go with the one that you think will be the most challenging! Those are always the best experiences anyway, and you’ll never regret your decision to be bold and try something completely new and way out of your comfort zone!
I may be a little bias, ok a lot bias, but Paris is by far one of the most beautiful places to go too, especially if you’re a lover of all things fashion! Not only is this city home to some major fashion brands including Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, but it’s also home to many other fashion designers. Thanks to Global Experiences amazing placement program, I’m pleased to say that I’m currently working for an independent luxury fashion brand underneath Jasmin Santanen, a fashion designer known for her ready-to-wear and haute couture collections. The experience, thus far, is proving to be everything I imagined it would be, and much, much more! Living and working in Paris is a dream come true for me, which is why I would highly recommend experiencing this for yourself! Do it once, and I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it!
Lastly, the final benefit I have found in doing an international internship is the opportunity to gain greater cultural awareness. As we all know, fashion has always stemmed from culture, which is why it is so important (at least for me) to be made aware of the different cultures that are out there. Traveling, I’ve discovered, makes you aware; but the best way to understand the people is to immerse yourself into their society. The best way to do this is to apply for an internship or study abroad program while you have the chance! I did not realize at the time just how impactful a program like this could have on a person’s life until I experienced it for myself. The career opportunities that have come up since my time abroad have had a major impact on my life. As a result, if the opportunity presents itself, please take my advice and just try it! I personally guarantee you’ll be glad you did! This is after all my second time in doing this!
As a recap, remember that there are three big benefits to doing a study abroad or international internship program. These benefits include exposure, experience, and the chance for greater cultural awareness. I can honestly say that I couldn’t be happier with my decision to be in a program like this one. As a result, I am incredibly thankful to Global Experiences and the entire team who helped make my dream a reality! They have given me an opportunity to get exposure, experience, and some greater cultural awareness in a city that breathes all things fashion! Needless to say, I’m beyond thrilled to be on this journey, and I can’t wait to start networking with other professionals to see if their lifestyles will suit my own personal career goals for the future. In conclusion, I want to challenge you to take my advice and do some research on your own! Don’t let an opportunity such as this one pass you by as you progress through your college years! Till next time, or jusqu’á la prochaine fois as the French would say!
P.S. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog just as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Ashley is a summer 2022 intern in fashion business.
Photo Credit: Ashley